New publications

The first issue of haiku journal Leaf-fall arrived in my letterbox recently, a gift from editor Akira Yagami who invited five poets to submit to the inaugural issue – Eva Limbach, John McManus, Alan Summers, Lucy Whitehead and myself.

after the scan
a dollhouse with
no one inside

Lucy Whitehead, Leaf-fall 1.1

This is from Lucy’s bio at Tinywords: Lucy Whitehead has a BA (hons) in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MA in the History of Art and Archaeology (of Asia). She has worked as an archaeologist and academic editor. She started writing haiku in 2018. Lucy lives in Essex in the UK.

star-spattered sky
the loneliness
we share

Eva Limbach, Leaf-fall 1.1

Eva writes in both English and her native German.You can read more of her work at her blog, Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility). She lives in Saarbrücken, a German town near the French border and has been writing haiku since 2012.

Both the male poets are from England. Read more about John McManus. Alan Summers is a busy haiku bee who writes, teaches and supports various haiku institutions. His website is here.

And me? Well, you know me already!

first cold morning
the unlined face
of my oldest doll

Sandra Simpson

Akira Yagami has sent submission and subscription details for Leaf-fall, which is a print-only journal: April 15-May 15 (estimated publication date in early June); October 15-November 15 (estimated publication date in early December). Annual subscriptions are available: £10 outside UK (postage included) for two issues, beginning with 1.2. All payments via PayPal to akirayagami (at) gmx (dot) com

Cover artwork is also being sought for issue 1.2. All kinds of art considered, but please send only jpeg files to the above email address with the subject line ‘art cover submission’.

The next publication to arrive was NOON: An anthology of short poems (Isobar Press), a collection from the journal of the same name, covering the period 2004 to 2017. From 2004 to 2009 NOON was a print-only journal, before migrating to the web in 2014. ‘Short poem’, by the way, is anything up to 14 lines, so yes, haiku, but other types of work as well.

In his Introduction, editor (of both the anthology and the journal) Philip Rowland says, that, even online, having one poem per page means “each poem [has] the space to ‘breathe’; [but] the poem must also, so to speak, warrant the page”.

In this way the journal’s format has helped open the question: how much can these poems of very few words do, individually and collectively? The challenge is one
of concision – but also connection, for each issue is meant to form a sequence of poems, short enough to be read at a single sitting.

Likewise, the arrangement of poems in this anthology has been a crucial consideration: they have been carefully juxtaposed throughout. Thus it is not simply a ‘best-of’ collection, but rather a new configuration of selected poems – a retrospective special issue, effectively. Given the scarcity of the print issues and the ‘virtual’ form of the later ones, the general aim has been to provide a representative sample of poems from the journal in a more readily available book, offering, it is hoped, a distinctive and wide-ranging selection of contemporary short poetry.

The result, Philip says, is a “renga-like chain of over two hundred poems by almost half as many poets”.

The NOON Anthology isn’t without its challenges for a conservative writer like me, but there’s plenty here for even the moderately adventurous reader – including humour.

art school
fixing
the urinal

Helen Buckingham

Read about Marcel Duchamp’s ‘artwork’ Fountain. The Lee Gurga piece below sounds like a snippet from a Billy Collins poem (a compliment, by the way).

we
linger
at
breakfast
mother’s burial dress
on

hanger
in
the
car

Lee Gurga

November wind
the garden reverts
to Latin

Rick Tarquinio

end of the month –
the clatter of a knife
in an empty jar

Sandra Simpson

A review of this anthology is in the pipeline and will be posted here on breath when the author has completed it.

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Haiku fellowship

One of the things I like most about the haiku community is the sense of fellowship among writers – we’re all pursuing perfection in an artform that to outsiders looks ‘easy’ – so getting together with fellow haikuists (who understand the pain of creating a poem in only a few words) is always a pleasure.

I’m rather tardy in posting this, but poets from either side of the Kaimai Range met for a misty, but enjoyable, walk round a park in Matamata in May, followed by lunch and then a round robin reading/discussion session in a nearby cafe.

From left: Shirley May (Tauranga), Mac Miller (Hamilton), Sandra Simpson, Harry Frentz (both Tauranga) and Barry Smith (Hamilton). Still to come were Jenny Fraser (Mt Maunganui) and Deryn Pittar (Papamoa). Photo: Keith Frentz

We hope it will be the first of many such get-togethers – an idea sparked during the launch of number eight wire in Tauranga in March – to deepen the connection between two clusters of poets who as the crow flies don’t live very far apart (drat that mountain pass) but who number among them many excellent writers.

The cafe wall motto seemed appropriate, clockwise from left, Barry Smith, Sandra Simpson, Keith Frentz, Harry Frentz, Shirley May, Mac Miller and Deryn Pittar. Photo: Jenny Fraser

It was a pleasure to re-establish my acquaintance with Barry Smith – I used to run into him at poetry weekend get-togethers in the 1990s – and to meet Mac Miller, someone I’d only known by email until then but whose work I like.

See you all again (and many others from our respective areas, it’s to be hoped) soon!

Haiku anthology launch

Ordering details are in the post below.

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Bouquet: Co-editors Margaret Beverland (left) and Sandra Simpson (right) with haiku supporter Elaine Fisher of Katikati. Photo Keith Frentz

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Ladies at lunch: From left, Anne Curran (Hamilton), Jenny Pyatt (Napier) and Moira Cursey (Raglan). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Bearded haiku poets: Andre Surridge (Hamilton, front) and Harry Frentz (Tauranga). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Pals: Cathie Bullock (left, Waihi) and Jenny Fraser (Mt Maunganui). Photo: Anne Curran

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Haiku advertisements: Ruby Robertson (left), Dave Robertson (both Tauranga) and Jenny Pyatt (Napier). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Chat time: Shirley May and Eric Dodson, both Tauranga. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Sales table: Harry Frentz (left) and Keith Frentz. Photo: Anne Curran

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Official: Margaret Beverland speaks. Photo: Keith Frentz

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Poet profiles: From left, Andre Surridge, Margaret Beverland (Katikati) and Elaine Riddell (Hamilton). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Long table lunch: From right, Deryn Pittar (Papamoa), Moira Cursey and her partner Jenny (Raglan) and Bob Orr (Thames coast). Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Catching up: Catherine Mair (Katikati) and Andre Surridge. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Car pool buddies: Anne Curran and Elaine Riddell, both from Hamilton. Photo: Sandra Simpson

 

Fourth NZ Haiku Anthology

It’s getting closer, folks. My co-editor Margaret Beverland and I have been working away steadily at this new volume and are now quite close to engaging with the print process.

Haiku have been selected and shuffled into some sort of narrative flow; biographical notes have been collected (alas, there’s a couple still dragging the chain); an ISBN number has been applied for; fore and aft papers created; permission gained for the re-use of illustrations on section separators; and a title selected.

Once we have a quote we feel happy with, then begins the process of cover design, choosing a paper weight and colour, typeface, perhaps an adjustment of the type sizes we’ve chosen, page numbering style and, doubtless, a few other things I’ve forgotten about.

In about September we gave ourselves permission not to have to have it out by Christmas and I think that has helped the process immeasurably. If it’s being feted somewhere on February 6, that would seem about right (Waitangi Day, the closest New Zealand comes to a national day).

Waitangi Day squall –
         the Governor-General’s representative
              grips his necktie

Eric Mould, winner of the 2002 NZPS Haiku Contest
published in A Savage Gathering (NZPS, 2002)

By the way, our anthology surveys New Zealand haiku from 2008-2018 so this haiku won’t be part of it … but we are very excited about the poems we do have. More anon.

On the radio

Won myself a chat with the delightful Jesse Mulligan this week, on his Summer Days slot on RNZ National. At my end the interview flew by and I thought it must have been about 5 minutes long – when I listened to it on podcast, turned out to be 10 minutes!

The basis of the interview was the Katikati Haiku Pathway but Jesse asked lots of questions about haiku in general and even started the interview with a haiku about the pathway that he’d written. Unfortunately, I wasn’t patched in and didn’t hear it which is why I don’t comment on it, not even to acknowledge his effort, shame.

Listen to the interview here.

Had some fun feedback too … an email this morning from Margaret Beverland, chairwoman of the Haiku Pathway Committee, who was contacted by a woman from Christchurch – and former resident of Katikati – who heard the interview. She’s off to Japan with 16 others on a Friendship Force International trip and they have decided to have a go at writing haiku before they leave. Excellent.

Honey harvest

The beekeeper arrived, unannounced on December 19, and harvested honey for us, leaving it in a big bucket for us to dispense into jars which Haiku Son and I duly did, Haiku Husband being away for a couple of days (he’d done it by himself last year).

As a two-person operation it all went quite smoothly – he operated the dispensing nozzle while I held the jars underneath and called ‘stop’. We finished with a couple of empty jars to spare, whew, and not too much sticky mess to clean up.

sunlit jar
the beekeeper’s gift
on the doorstep

– Carmen Sterba
The Heron’s Nest 3:6 (2001)

Photo: Sandra Simpson

on the honey
a slight scent of the forest — 
lengthening daylight

– Tsugawa Eriko, tr Kato Koko
A Vast Sky: An anthology of contemporary world haiku (Tancho Press, 2015)

I spent a couple of days tasting the honey, trying to work out what it tasted of, if anything in particular, but no such luck. A bit of a fizz on the tongue, though, that’s about the best specific I can do.

Oh, yes, 10kg, same as last year!

honey bee –
at last the budding weeds
have meaning

– Ben Moeller-Gaa
Mystic Illuminations 3 (2016)

The bees are smoked to keep them quiet. Photo: Sandra Simpson

on hold with the help desk a sound of bees swarming 

– Sandra Simpson
Presence 51 (2014)

end of a love
honey hardens
in the jar

– Polona Oblak
Notes from the Gean 3:4 (2012)

Botan shibe fukaku wakeizuru hachi no nagori kana

A bee
staggers out
of the peony.

– Matsuo Basho, tr Robert Hass
Basho’s haiku originally from Skeleton in the Fields (Nozarashi kiko)
a travel journal of 1684-5

Another translation is:

from deep within 
the peony pistils — withdrawing
regretfully the bee

Errors made

I’m repeating a posting I’ve made this morning at Haiku NewZ, because I think it’s an important issue.

The Apokalipsa Haiku Contest (Slovenia) has disqualified one of the three haiku that judges had selected as First equal. After the awards had been made on September 24, it was discovered that the haiku by Ernest J Berry of New Zealand was a very slightly modified version of one of his which had won the James W Hackett contest (run by the British Haiku Society) in 2008 and been published in white lies, the Red Moon anthology of 2009.

family bible
a wisp of baby hair
in genesis

– First equal Apokalipsa contest 2016; disqualified

family bible
a wisp of baby hair
in Revelation

– First place, James W Hackett Award 2008, published white lies, 2009

The judges say (in translation): “The commission unanimously believes that it is the same haiku, although [there is a] word change … in the third line, so unfortunately it cannot be taken into account. The other two first prizes remain unchanged.”

The two poets who share First prize are Marinko Kovačević of Croatia and Dimitrij Škrk of Slovenia. Ernie also had 4 Commended haiku.

I’ll also note another similar, recent example I’ve come across.

spring sunset
the breath of a fawn
ripples the pond

– Ramesh Anand, First place, European Haiku Society Contest 2016 (announced in April and for which he won €700)

spring dawn
the breath of a fawn
ripples the pond

– Ramesh Anand, Paper Wasp 22.2, 2016 (submissions closed at the end of May)

As it was the final issue of Paper Wasp, the editors were disappointed but not inclined to follow up.

I draw no conclusions about the motivations (if any) of these poets but note this isn’t the first time Ernie has been caught out like this.

Such examples should be a warning to us all to keep meticulous records of published and unpublished work – and to be very clear on what constitutes acceptable writing practice. Read my thoughts in the essay Cleaning up our Act and Michael Dylan Welch’s response to that, Plagiarism and Deja-ku.

Postscript: It never rains but it pours …

Word has just reached me that The Living Haiku Anthology Contest which announced its prizes this week has “vacated” first place after discovering the haiku had already been published! All other prizes will stand.

starry night
I carve the constellations
on his skin

– Diksha Sharma, First place, Living Haiku Anthology contest 2016, disqualified

Published as a single-line haiku in Asahi Haikuist Network, September 2, 2016.

starry night —
I trace the constellations
on his skin

– Diksha Sharma, published cattails haiku journal, May 2016

Second postscript: Another reader has pointed me to this:

starry night —
I carve the constellations
on his skin

– Diksha Sharma, published Sharpening the Green Pencil e-anthology (Romanian Kukai Group), April 2016

So this haiku was published a whopping three times before the author entered it in the Living Haiku Anthology contest! It seems obvious, but maybe the point needs to be made that contest entry rules should be read carefully. Most of them say “unpublished and not under consideration elsewhere” …